Kusadasi, Jewel of the Aegean
Kusadasi is a popular coastal resort and port on the Aegean Sea particularly with visitors from Northern and Western Europe. Many people arrive here via the port on their way to the historic site of Ephesus. The town is home to a permanent population of around 50,000 people. It is a truly scenic area with some beautiful old properties on the waterfront, many of which have been converted into cafes and bars giving the town a modern cosmopolitan European feel. The hilly are towards the outskirts of the town has been built up with luxury hotels and apartment blocks, many belonging to wealthy yacht owners who regularly use the port facilities.
The town of Kusadasi is located on the Guvercin Ada Peninsula, which juts out into the sea forming a perfect natural harbour. The Kaz Dagi Mountain shelters the town from inclement weather and provides a scenic backdrop to what has become a thriving and attractive Turkish resort. Izmir is home to the nearest international airport and is situated 90 km away. Kusadasi is also 71 km from Aydin , 149 km from Bodrum, 18 km from Ephesus, 220 km from Pamukkale, 665 km from the capital Ankara and 423 km from Antalya.
A Dip Back in Time
Since the days of the Byzantine Empire Kusadasi has carried many names including Ephesus Neopolis and Scala Nuova. At the beginning of the 20th century it became known as Kush-Adasi , which originates from the words 'kuş' meaning bird and 'ada' meaning island. It is so called because the peninsula where it is located looks like a bird's head from the air.
Many locals refer to the town simply as Ada. Civilisation in this area has been traced back to the Leleges in 3,000 BC. It was once a centre of art and culture for many populations including the Aeolians and Ionians. It was a minor port constantly overshadowed by the Ephesus, but its fortunes changed when the harbour at Ephesus silted up. Many civilisations have left their mark here from the Lydians and Persians to Alexander the Great and evidence of their legacies can be found in the archaeological sites unearthed around here. In the 2nd century BC, Kusadasi belonged to the Roman Empire and during the early foundation of Christianity; the town was visited by Mary, Christ’s mother and St John the Evangelist. The port was often raided by pirates but soon became a haven for traders from Byzantine, Venice and Genoa who named it Scala Nuova or new port. In 1086, the Turks took over the town, but this only lasted until 1280 when the Byzantine Empire conquered the area again. Mehmet I incorporated the town into the Ottoman Empire in 1413 and built the city walls that can still be seen today. In 1834, the castle was expanded and renovated. As Izmir grew as a city Kusadasi started to decline. The town was occupied by Italians and Greeks during the Turkish War of Independence in 1919 until 1922. In the 1970’s developers moved in recognising the areas potential as a tourist resort.
Kusadasi offers much in the way of hotel and self catering accommodation as well as some great dining opportunities; seafood and traditional Turkish cuisine are excellent in this area. The resort is open all year round and has a vibrant night life with plenty of clubs playing live Turkish music and many international discos.
The area is surrounded by fabulous beaches, which provide a range of water sports and great sun spots. Kalamaki National Park 30 km to the south on the Dilek Peninsula is one of the most beautiful natural areas in the country. The beaches here are surrounded by thick pine forests and the sea here is crystal clear. It is a great area for hiking and relaxing and is not as touristy as some of the other beaches in the area with plenty of secluded rocky bays. Some of the beaches are strewn with pebbles, but still make great places for swimming and bathing. Long Beach is a 15 minute drive from Kusadasi and is particularly good for water sports like parasailing water skiing and jet skiing. Green Beach is close to Kusadasi town centre. It is a fine sandy beach lined with palms, which gets quite busy with locals at the weekend. Ladies Beach is one of the most popular sandy beaches in the area and is so named because it once offered segregated bathing to women only. It is a 20 minute walk from Kusadasi and is another great place for water sports. Papaz Beach lies on a small peninsula known as Snake Island. It is somewhat rocky and is only a short walk from the town. Downtown Beach is located in the centre of town next to the marina and opposite the harbour. Sun Set Beach Club lies next to Yesilhamam Bay. It is a private beach and you have to pay to sunbathe here. Kustur Beach is 5 km from Kusadasi and is another very popular beach with a long sandy shoreline. This is the place to gather at the end of the day and watch the sunset. There are plenty of water parks in the area with some great slides wave-pools.
The town’s rich history is firmly rooted in the sites around the town. The city walls are highly visible and one of the old city gates still stands. The 16th century mosque known as Kaleiçi Camii was built for the Grand Vizier Okuz Kara Mehmed Pasha and his caravanserai, a roadside inn, which supported the international trade in the area, is still standing close to the docks. It contains a strong-room, which stored many of the products brought for sale here. The Venetian – Byzantine castle at Kadıkalesi, 10 km from the town is a site to behold as is the magnificent castle at the end of the bay on the Guvercin Ada Peninsula, which affords some excellent views over to the town. The Yılancı Burnu Peninsula also has some ancient ruins and plenty of great beaches. It is also worth getting out of town and visiting a traditional Turkish village like Kirazli. It is only 12 km from the town offers an insight into real Turkish architecture and rural living conditions. Pygale located 3 km north of the town, is still under excavation, but is believed to have been the hone of Agamemnon, the commander of the Achaeans in the Trojan War.
Kusadasi is a beautiful town with lots of history.